PSA: VapoRub Does Not Belong In Your Vagina

Photographed by Ashley Armitage.

We can now add VapoRub to the list of unusual and completely unnecessary things people are doing to their vaginas.

Some people in online forums say they're applying Vicks VapoRub to their vaginas to ward off infections, provide lubrication, and leave their parts smelling good. But like most vaginal health trends, this one does more harm than good, gynecologist Vanessa Mackay told The Sun.

"My vagina itches. Just the outside on the labia. They become swollen as well. When I scratch, they bleed. I use Vicks to sooth the itch and bring down the swelling," someone wrote on Health24. Someone else wrote, "I had yeast and bouth [sic] Miconazole for that but in the meantime, I cured it. I used Vicks to calm down the terrible itching."

But Mackay told The Sun that Vicks won't treat yeast infections; you need to see a doctor about those. In fact, it might actually make them more likely, since it could disrupt your vagina's bacterial balance. And using it for cleanliness is unnecessary, she added: "You don’t need to wash your vagina – it self-cleans."

And the idea that the vagina needs anything to make it smell OK is extremely problematic. People are being shamed into thinking their vaginas aren't alright as they are, while there are few products or treatments geared toward making penises smell good. If a vaginal odor is truly unusual, this indicates an underlying medical problem you should talk to your doctor about, not something you should treat with VapoRub, said Mackay.

So, it sounds like Vicks belongs in the same category as wasp nests, cucumber cleanses, and vagina glitter (yes, these are all things that exist): It does not belong in, on, or around your vagina. In fact, very few things do. Unless you have an infection that needs treatment — which you should get from a doctor — all you ever need to keep it clean is water, said Mackay.